Help from a relative or friend

For a variety of reasons, you may wish to have a relative or close friend help you when you make your Will. It is important that both you and the person helping you take great care, in order to reduce the risk of challenges being made regarding the validity of your Will.

In our online interview, there are a couple of questions for the person helping you. It is also important the legal firm knows that you were helped.

Your Will must accurately reflect your own wishes.

You should not be influenced by a relative or anyone else when you decide how you would like your money and assets to be distributed on your death. This could be relevant where a relative or friend is helping you create your Will, or if they are helping you when you sign it and get it witnessed.

Undue influence

Undue influence happens when someone has been put under such pressure that the choices they make are not really their own choices.

Your Will could be called into question later if someone thinks that you have been unduly influenced when making your Will.

Knowing and approving your Will

Another important aspect is that you should know and approve the contents of your Will. Even if you are used to trusting other people to sort things out for you, you must know what is in your Will, and you must be happy with it.

If it isn’t certain that you knew and approved of the contents of your Will when you signed it, the Will can be challenged on that ground.

Avoiding challenges

If your Will is successfully disputed the court may declare it invalid. In that case, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules, or according to a valid earlier Will if there is one.

If you do decide to enlist the help of a relative or friend, there are steps you can take to minimise the chances of your Will being challenged on either of those grounds:

  • make sure you are present when your Will is made;

  • ensure you understand all of the questions you are being asked, and the consequences of how you choose to leave your money and assets;

  • discuss the contents of your Will with any beneficiaries who are not involved in the Will-writing process, so that they are aware of your intentions; and

  • read through the Will to make sure it says what you want it to say.

Depending on the circumstances in which you make your Will, you may be concerned that these issues might arise at a later date. If so, it is advisable to write a letter to accompany your Will stating that you have asked the relative or friend concerned to help you prepare your Will, but that you are happy with the document and are satisfied that it accurately reflects your wishes. Or you can request advice from one of our selected law firms.

Blind or illiterate testators

If you are blind or unable to read, many of the issues that arise when asking a relative or friend to help you also apply. For your Will to be valid, it must be clear that you understand the contents of your Will before you sign it or make a mark instead of a signature. The easiest way to demonstrate this is to use a special clause at the bottom of your Will called an attestation clause. This states that your Will has been read to you, and that you have understood it before you sign.

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